A Summary and Review of Ed Wood

A Summary and Review of Ed Wood

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  1. Tim Burton’s 1994 film "Ed Wood" is a black-and-white comedy based on the life of film director Edward D. Wood, Jr. Wood is best known for the low-budget b-movies "Plan 9 From Outer Space." Though he was relatively obscure during his life, he rose to fame in the ’70s when "Plan 9 from Outer Space" was voted as the "worst movie ever made" in "The Golden Turkey Awards," a book which focused on bad B-movies. The same book also named Wood as the "worst director of all time."

    However, Burton’s film is only loosely based on Wood’s life and the story is heavily fabricated for dramatic and comedic effect. While it may not be entirely accurate, it is still an incredibly charming and absolutely fantastic film that demonstrates Wood’s undying passion for his films, despite the fact that they were complete failures.

    Personally, I feel it is one of Burton’s best efforts which is often overlooked, due to the fact it doesn’t have the same distinct visual style as the rest of his catalogue, such as "Beetlejuice" and "Edward Scissorhands."

    Johnny Depp stars as Wood and the story begins as he is directing unsuccessful stage plays and working on a Hollywood backlot. He has big dreams of becoming the next Orson Welles, but he never receives a callback for pitches he makes to movie studios.

    Things start to look up for Wood once he meets his childhood idol: "Dracula" star Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau, in an Academy Award-nominated role). Unfortunately, Lugosi has found himself in a bad situation, where no movie studios are interested in casting him and he is addicted to morphine. When Wood discovers that an exploitation film studio is looking to produce a film about the sex reassignment surgery of Christine Jorgensen, he approaches the studio to write and direct the film, claiming that he is the most qualified director to tackle the subject.

    The reason behind Wood’s rationale is that he secretly loves to dress in women’s clothing – a secret he has kept from his girlfriend, Delores Fuller (Sarah Jessica Parker). When he receives the job, he writes a script that is more about cross-dressing that the Jorgensen story, which¬† reveals his secret to Fuller, who is absolutely shocked by the revelation.

    The film continues to follow Wood’s career and relationship with Lugosi and his cross-dressing throughout his career and Lugosi’s death. While the story stops after the production of his magnum opus, "Plan 9 From Outer Space," it still covers quite a lot, including his relationships with minor Hollywood players like Criswell (Jeffery Jones), wrestler Tor Johnson (George "The Animal" Steele) and Vampira (Burton’s then-girlfriend, Lisa Marie).

    Though "Ed Wood" does not have Burton’s typical style, he still did a fantastic job behind the director’s chair. The choice to produce the film in black-and-white really brings out the feeling of the era which it takes place. Also, Depp and Landau are perfect in their roles. Depp brings out the charisma and undying commitment to filmmaking under the worst possible conditions. Landau portrays Lugosi as a bitter old man who also has a sweet side, though his profanity-laden dialogue was criticized by many, including Lugosi’s real-life son.

    The only real problem with the film is that is either ignores or changes the real-life narrative of Edward D. Wood, Jr’s life. However, these choices are not detrimental to the film’s quality. In fact, had they stuck to the true story, "Ed Wood" would’ve turned out very depressing, as opposed to the fun and interesting biopic that it later became. It comes very highly recommended to film fans, especially those who are already familiar with Wood’s work.

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